Hello! Happy Wednesday babes! As per request, I am going to dive into talking about macros.
In general, I think macros can be overwhelming; or maybe that was just how I felt in the beginning? So many thoughts ran through my head that I didn’t even know where to start on the topic. That being said, I am going to do several posts on macros since there are so many different facets to it. I definitely plan to talk about my personal experience with macros: why did I start counting, is it difficult to track, what results have I seen, what was my cut like, what are my macros like now that I am trying to gain weight, etc. BUT for now, I am going to cover the basics. Think of this post as an introduction to macros.
Now, before I start…disclaimer: I am not an expert! I am writing this based on my personal experience, research I’ve done, and most importantly, picking my friend’s brain that does this for a living (thanks, Paola)! Hehe. But I can say, that I have been counting macros for about 7 months now and I surprisingly love it! I never really thought I would stick to it for this long but it’s been a great experience. I have never seen my body change faster in regards to leaning out and building muscle. But more on my personal experience later 🙂 Alright, now time for the Q&A portion!
What does counting macros refer to? The term “macros” refers to the grams of macronutrients for carbohydrates, protein, and fat. Food is made up of these three components, which is where the number of total calories are derived from (ie. 1g of carbs and protein = 4 calories; while 1g of fat = 9 calories). When counting macros, your goal is to consume a certain number of grams of each macronutrient daily.
(In reference to the previous question). So, am I counting calories if I’m counting macros? Not exactly. With counting macros, you are more concerned that you are hitting the specified number of grams allotted to each macronutrient. Granted, when your macros are calculated, a caloric number will be calculated as well; this is because calories come from the amount of carbs, protein, and fat in food (as mentioned above). That being said, if you hit you hit your macros, you will more or less come close to your calorie goal. However, when tracking, you should just look at the grams of carbs, protein, and fat per food item.
How do you figure out what your macros numbers should be? AHHH. Okay. A few things. First, you have to decide what your goal is. Do you want to lose fat (cut), build muscle (gain), or simply maintain? In general, it is very difficult to lose fat while simultaneously building muscle. Therefore, you have to choose which one you want! Granted, it’s not quite as clear cut as this, but for the purpose of this initial post, think of choosing you macros with this mentality.
Once you’ve decided what you want your goal to be, I’ve had a lot of girls ask me where you get the actual calculation from. There are a couple of options. There are tons of websites out there where you can insert your height, weight, and numbers of hours you exercise per week (these factors are needed to calculate your numbers in addition to whether you want to cut, maintain, or gain. Then, based off this information, the website will calculate your macros. However, I do not trust a lot of websites! Even reputable ones have given me numbers that were way off target (in my opinion). Plus, websites are not interactive, so if you have any questions, doubts, concerns, etc. you can’t really address them. With that said, I would highly recommend having someone who is qualified calculate your macros for you. If you’re seriously about counting and are going to put in the time and effort, you want your numbers to be correct. Obviously there are a lot of people out there who are qualified to do this! I personally use Paola (@paosfitworld), and have been super happy with my experience. So, there’s that!
Do you use an app to track your macros? Yep! I personally like my fitness pal (MFP). MFP has a huge database of foods so you can search for a food item from a grocery store, certain restaurants, etc., and it will input the nutritional information into your consumption for that day. My Macros+ is another popular app. I just find MFP easier to use; it really just comes down to personal preference.
Besides using the app to track, again, if you’re serious, I would also highly recommend investing in a food scale to ensure the portions you are tracking are correct. Individualized, pre-packaged food (ie. a protein bar) does not need to be weighed since all the nutritional information regarding total carbs, protein, and fat is on the label. However, when you are eating a piece of chicken for example, it is preferable to weigh it so you know the exact number of ounces you are consuming. On that note, there are other foods that don’t necessarily need to be weighed, but if I have a scale available, I prefer it. For example, a banana. You can insert “1 large banana” into MFP and it will input the macros for it. However, I prefer to actually weigh the banana if possible (without the skin!); in doing so, you will be the most accurate. Likewise, if you buy a bag of potato chips. Instead of saying, 1 serving = ~15 chips; I like to weigh out the actual number of grams per serving (if possible). In general, once I started actually weighing my food, I was pretty surprised how off I was in eyeballing my portions. Like, 1/2 cup of pasta, is not really 1/2 cup of pasta when you actually weigh it out in grams! Granted, now that I’ve been tracking for over 6 months, I have gotten better at estimating, but like I said, when I have my scale, I always use it! Accuracy is key! (I use the Jennings CJ4000 from Amazon).
Alright babes, I think that’s it for now! Please leave any comments, questions, etc! xx
(Leggings are from Strut This; Sports bra is Adidas)
PS. New to counting macros and want all the tips you need to officially get started? Be sure to take a look at my guidebook: